Rome

Maternity no obstacle for top Italian athletes

Cainero wins European gold while five months pregnant

Maternity no obstacle for top Italian athletes

(by Sandra Cordon) (ANSA)- Rome, August 7 - Pregnancy is no problem for some top Italian athletes who are competing - and winning - in their fields while dealing with childbirth. Take Italian shooter, Chiara Cainero, who won two gold medals earlier this week at the European championships while five months pregnant. Or Valentina Vezzali, six-time Olympic gold medal-winning fencer who was preparing to compete in the world championships in her field just two months after her second son was born. Similarly, fencing teammate Mara Navarria, an epee specialist, was also competing at the world championships after training while nursing her four-month-old baby. These are just a few examples of women who take child-bearing in stride. "My son will be born with the gold medal around his neck," Cainero said Tuesday after she won the gold medal in the individual skeet event at the European Shooting Championships. "I'm very happy," added the 35-year-old Cainero, who was the Olympic champion in the skeet at the 2008 Games in Beijing. "While I was shooting, I could feel my child moving," she added. "I hope he realized I was contending (in) a gold-medal final". Feeling her baby kick could mean another Olympic athlete on the way, or it may have just been the natural movement that can be expected at the five-month mark in a pregnancy, said Massimo Moscarini, director of the Department of Women's Health at Rome's La Sapienza University. That's because the fetus can begin to hear external noise – and responds, said Moscarini. "Just around the four and a half months, five months (the mother can) perceive the first movements of the baby," he said. That may have affected Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi from Malaysia who competed at the 2012 London Olympics while almost eight months pregnant - something of an Olympic record in itself. The 29-year-old Suryani, who did not advance beyond the qualification round in the 10-meter air rifle event, said she could feel her daughter kicking from time to time but said that that was an advantage. "I have two hearts, so maybe I'm stronger". Vezzali was less fortunate with her training regime during pregnancy - Wednesday in Budapest, she was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the individual foil fencing event at the World Championships by fellow Italian Arianna Errigo. Vezzali competed just 83 days after delivery of her second son Andrea. "Being here is important to me," as she balances her skills as an athlete with being a mother, Vezzali said before Wednesday's event. "I am excited as a child". Vezzali has had experience with competition during and after pregnancy - her first son was born at the time of the 2005 World Cup in Leipzig. Preparation for the world championships was less challenging this time around, she said, as she was able to lose baby weight before the event. "With the workouts. I managed to lose 12 pounds, while continuing to breastfeed my son," she explained. "It took me so much effort and determination, but when you want something, you do not feel the pain and fatigue".

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